I wasn't in New Orleans, but my All-Star Weekend was pretty eventful, to say the least.
We had played a game in Brooklyn the Wednesday before the break and everyone on our team knew our flights would be canceled out of Charlotte on Thursday because it was storming and the south doesn't handle snow very well. But this is our only break of the entire year, our one chance to briefly escape the NBA grind, and I really didn't want to be stranded in Charlotte for the entire weekend.
Luckily, my teammate Josh McRoberts, who is also from Indiana, was trying to go exactly where I wanted to go: Indianapolis. When we landed back in Charlotte, Josh said, "Why don't we drive?" It was pretty snowy outside, but we didn't want to wait until Friday and risk having the same thing happen at the airport, so we took off. In the middle of the night.
The roads were pretty bad. We took it really slow the first three hours. In all, it ended up taking us about 10 hours to get from Charlotte to Indianapolis and we arrived at 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon. We drove all the way through the night and the roads were empty. Josh handled the wheel the entire time, but I tried to stay awake and entertain him. It was kind of fun to chit-chat with him and just talk about everything. We usually sit next to each other on the planes so we know each other pretty well. I let him handle the music on the road trip since he was driving, it was only fair.
Ironically, my brother Tyler (who plays for the Cavaliers), was trying to get to Charlotte while we were leaving because his fiance lives nearby, but his flight out of Cleveland was canceled too. After that, he decided to try and come to Bloomington, Ind. where my other brother Luke and I were going for the weekend, but he got rear-ended about halfway into the trip and decided to turn around. People have no idea how to drive in the snow.
Right after the All-Star break came the trade deadline. It was pretty wild hearing of all the possibilities of trades, especially when they involve your team. A lot of guys don't know what city they are going to be living in tomorrow, but that's just how it is in this profession. There are so many last-second deals on the table, so many names flying around, so many combinations. We ended up trading away two guys (Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien) and bringing two new guys in (Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour). Obviously in high school and college you lose players to graduation, but that's at the end of the year. For us to lose two guys and add two new ones 55 games into a season is completely different. You see the same guys every day all year, and then they're gone. It's pretty weird.
The players knew the front office was working on a couple of different possibilities at the deadline. We're definitely aware of that stuff. But we actually had the day off the day of the trade deadline. I came in and worked out in the morning, and so did most of the team, but I was home by 12:30 p.m. or so and the deadline wasn't until 3 p.m. So I was trying to stay on top of the news.
Believe it or not, my mom was the first one to tell me the Bobcats made a trade. She called me and said she was just checking in, but then added, "Sounds like you've got two new teammates."
That's right. My mom knows more about my team than I do.
Since both me and Tyler are in the NBA, she was refreshing Twitter over and over again. The trade deadline is a stressful time for everybody.
Our team has been having a lot of success lately -- we've won four straight and are really coming together. I think games 20-30 were the hardest for me this season. At the beginning of the year I was excited to play but still figuring things out. Games 30-40 you can see the All-Star break at the end of the tunnel. And now it's the second half and we're making a big playoff push and every game really matters. The level of urgency has definitely turned up a notch. Lots of guys, including myself, have never been in the playoffs before and we're hungry. People are accepting their roles and no one is trying to do something they can't.
I'm trying to bring energy on both sides of the floor. Trying to defend or get one our shooters open for a shot. Running the fast break. Crashing the glass. Anything I can do to spark the second unit.
Our next four games are against the four best teams in the NBA -- the Spurs, Thunder, Heat and Pacers. It'll be a tough stretch, but you've got to be prepared to compete with anyone when you're in a playoff hunt. That's just the nature of the NBA.
As told to Matt Dollinger of SI.com.